2023 ZSABL Western Division Analysis



Memphis Sound

Starting Staff:

Shane McClanahan (A-Z 28 GS 166 IP) wears the mantle of staff “ace”, Jeffrey Springs “or Shields as the Rojo skipper calls him” (A-Z 25 GS 135 IP) is the # 2. Three solid B-Z’s then make up the rest of this formidable rotation, Shane Bieber (31 GS 200 IP), Joe Musgrove (30 GS 181 IP) and Brady Singer (24 GS 153 IP). Jacob de Grom (11 GS 64 IP), who has seen all his early action out of the bullpen, may see some spot starts. Patrick Sandoval (B-No Z 27 GS 149 IP) and Nick Lodolo (B-No Z 19 GS 103 IP) will both pitch in long relief. Down on the farm are C-No Z’s, Sean Manaea (28 GS 158 IP) and Luis H.Garcia (28 GS 157 IP). Jack Flaherty (C-W 8 GS 36 IP) joins them. Also toiling in the bushes will be Cade Cavalli (D-No Z 1 GS 4 IP) who just underwent TJ surgery. It is quite an impressive deep group of starting pitchers.



The pen is just as deep as the starting staff, led by Erik Swanson (A&C-Z 54 IP 1 GS) and Yency Almonte (A&B*-Z (35 IP). Supporting them are a pair of A*-Z’s in Jimmy Herget (69 IP 1 GS) and Adam Ottavino (66 IP) and Ryan Pressly (B*-Z 48 IP). In the minors is Josh Hader (C*-No Z 50 IP).



Adley Rutschman, (C-9, .807) will see the bulk of the back stopping duties, M.J.Melendez (C-7, .706 OPS) is his back up.



Peter Alonso (1B-4 .870 OPS) and Austin Riley (3B-4 .877 OPS) will man the two corner infield positions. Carlos Correa (SS-9 .833 OPS) is at shortstop paired with Gavin Lux (2B-8 .745 OPS) to form the DP combo. Nathaniel Lowe (1B-3 .850 OPS) is the DH and back up first baseman. Bryson Scott (2B-7 SS-8 3B-3) is the lone infield reserve on the bench since he covers all the positions.

The future hopefuls down on the farm include Michael Massey (2B-8 .683 OPS), Ezequiel Tovar (SS-8 .590 OPS), Miguel Vargas (1B-2 .455 OPS), who looks primed to take over the keystone bag for the LA Dodgers in the wake of the Gavin Lux injury, and Bret Baty (3B-3 .583 OPS).

Un-carded Jordan Lawler who seems about ready to make his MLB debut and bounce back candidate Javier Baez (SS-8 .671 OPS) will join them.



This area may be the Achilles heel for the Sound. The starting trio are all OF-3’s but the bats seem to be a little light as Starling Marte (.815), Andy Benintendi (.772 OPS) and Adolis Garcia (.756 OPS) will not strike fear into opponents hearts, although they do “roll” incredibly well for Garcia. Stone Garrett (OF-1 .848 OPS) but just 76 at bats will be the primary pinch hitter while Dylan Carlson (OF-3.696 OPS) will be the sole back up. In the minors is Will Brennan (OF-2 .900 OPS) with 42 at bats, Nick Castellanos (OF-1 .694 OPS) coming off a disappointing year and Riley Greene (OF-2 .683 OPS).


Draft Analysis:                                               

They took the A-Z Jeffrey Springs with their Lottery pick and armed with two second round selections they went for Bret Baty and Jimmy Herget.

Ottavino bolstered their pen in the 3rd

The youngsters then went next, Miguel Vargas was taken in the 4th, and Tovar in the 5th.

28 year old Stone Garret was added in the 6th

and then back to youth in the 7th with Michael Massey.

Almonte was their 8th round selection before

ending with more youth in Will Brennan in the 9th.



There are no weaknesses in the pitching side of the 2023 edition of the Memphis Sound. They have the best lineup in the West as well so the only thing holding them back is their exaggerated claim of “shoddy dice rolling”. The playoffs look like a lock, we shall see if any one can challenge them for the “holier than thou” supremacy for the top spot in the division.


Norfolk Neptunes

Starting Staff:

Tony Gonsolin (A-Z 24 GS 130 IP) is the top guy in the Nep’s rotation. Next in line is a pair of solid B-Z’s in Logan Webb (32 GS 192 IP) and Zack Greinke (26 GS 137 IP). There is a slight drop off in the back end of the staff as Framber Valdez (B-No Z 31 GS 201 IP) and Luis Severino (B-No Z 19 GS 102 IP) both lack control. Hopefully picking up the slack with an occasional start and long relief stints are the C-Z’s, Jose Berrios (32 GS 172 IP) and Noah Syndergaard (25 GS 135 IP). Down in the minors is Bailey Ober (B-Z 11 GS 56 IP) and un-carded Kyle Harrison.



Skipper Groff always said you need two A*-Z’s in the pen to be competitive and he once again failed to accomplish this mantra. Evan Phillips (A&B*-Z 63 IP) is the closer with the “Z” but Ryan Helsley (A&B*-No Z 65 IP) did not get one. Camilo Doval (A*-No Z 68 IP) will help in the set up department. Three B*-Z’s will try to make up these perceived short-comings in the pen; they are Keegan Akin (82 IP 1 GS) and a lefty, Domingo Acevedo (68 IP) and Joel Payamps (56 IP).



Daulton Varsho (C-7 .745 OPS) in probably his last year of eligibility at the position will be the starter. His back up is Jonah Heim (C-8 .697 OPS). Riding the bush league busses are Ryan Jeffers (C-8 .648 OPS) and Joey Bart (C-7 .660 OPS), who has been given notice that he is on a short leash unless he starts to produce. Un-Carded Endy Rodriguez joins them.



First base has Ryan Mountcastle (1B-4 .728 OPS), Vinnie Pasquantino (1B-2 .833 OPS) and Andrew Vaughn (1B-3 .750 OPS) all vying for playing time although the latter will perhaps see some OF/DH duty. Pasquantino with his 1B-2 is probably better suited for just taking swings as the DH. Ramon Urias (2B-8 3B-5 .719 OPS) is at second, spelled occasionally by Brandon Lowe (2B-8 .691 OPS). The stud, Rafael Devers is at the “hot corner” (3B-4 .879 OPS). Francisco Lindor (SS-9 .788 OPS) is the shortstop. On the bench is Willie Adames (SS-9 .756 OPS). In the minors are Nolan Gorman (2B-7 .720 OPS), Luis V.Garcia (2B-7 SS-7 .703 OPS), Josh Jung (3B-4 .653 OPS), Jared Walsh (1B-4 .643 OPS), the oft-injured Adalberto Mondesi (SS-8 .344 OPS) and un-carded Marco Luciano.



Yordan Alvarez (OF-1 1.109 OPS), you have to hide him somewhere defensively but he can “rake”. Byron Buxton (OF-3 .832 OPS) and Chas McCormick (OF-3 .739 OPS) are the three main fly chasers on paper. They all have limitations, Buxton only has 340 at bats, Alvarez has no glove and McCormick could lose time if Vaughn is employed in the outfield instead of first base. Kerry Carpenter (OF-1 .795 OPS) is the only bench option. Of course when Varsho is positioned in the pastures and they go with Heim behind the plate, the outfield situation clears up dramatically. In the minors is Alex Kirilloff (OF-1 .651 OPS) and Skipper Groff’s relative, the un-carded Vaun Brown.    


Draft Analysis:

They were surprised that Pasquantino fell to them at # 6 in the draft. They got ½ of their two A*-Z reliever theory in Evan Phillips in the second round.

They never did get the other half. With no 3rd rounder

they grabbed Helsley in the 4th and Jonah Heim arrived in the 5th.

Akins the southpaw was taken in the 6th

Urias, an important piece for the Neptunes this season was selected in the 7th.

Un-carded players were taken in the 8th, 9th and 10th, Endy Rodriguez, Kyle Harrison and Vaun Brown respectively.

Another bullpen addition in the 11th with Acevedo and their final pick in the 12th was Kerry Carpenter.



An above average starting staff and the same above average bullpen, although they could have used another A*-Z along with an above average line up places you on the cusp of the playoffs. A pennant is too far out of reach. A slow start not withstanding, once they feel comfortable with a set lineup they should battle for a play off berth.


Cleveland Naps

Starting Staff:

Cal Quantrill (B-Z 32 GS 186 IP), Jose Quintana (B-Z. 32 GS 165 IP) and Dean Kremer (B-Z 21 GS 125 IP) are at the top of the rotation. Jameson Taillon (C-Z 32 GS 177 IP) and Jose Urquidy (C-Z 28 GS 164 IP) anchor the back half. They all have control. Trevor Williams (B-Z 9 GS 90 IP) can spot start when not in the pen as can Andre Pallante (B-No Z 10 GS 108 IP). Pablo Lopez (C-No Z 32 GS 178 IP) and Luis Cessa (C-No Z 10 GS 81 IP) will pitch mop up innings. Down on the farm are Antonio Senzatela (D-Z 19 GS 92 IP) and Devin Smeltzer (C-Z 12 GS 70 IP).



A.J.Minter (A*-Z 70 IP) opens the season as the closer. Three A*-No Z’s lend some support in Scott Barlow (74 IP), Clay Holmes (64 IP) and Carl Edwards Jr.(62 IP). Alex Lange (B*-No Z 63 IP) and the aforementioned Trevor Williams and Andre Pallante round out the pen. In the minors are Pete Fairbanks (A&B*-Z 24 IP), Mike King (A*-Z 51 IP) and Tim Mayza (B*-Z 49 IP).



Jose Trevino (C-9 .671 OPS) and Danny Jansen (C-8 .855 OPS) are a decent pairing behind the plate. In the minors is Carson Kelly (C-7 .616 OPS)



They traded long time stalwart 3B Jose Ramirez and SS Wander Franco in the off-season. In their stead they will use Jose Miranda (3B-4 1B-3 .751 OPS) at third base, Max Muncy (2B-7 3B-4 .713 OPS), Jean Segura (2B-8 .723 OPS), Harold Castro (2B-7 SS-7 1B-3 .681 OPS), Luis Urias (SS-7 2B-7 .739 OPS) and Jorge Mateo (SS-9 .646 OPS) will split up time at second base and shortstop in some sort of system devised by the Hize.

Josh Naylor (1B-3.771 OPS) will be the starter at first base with Miranda occasionally taking over. In the minors is J.D.Davis (3B-3 .758 OPS), Jonathan Aranda (2B-5 1B-3 .597 OPS), that 2B-5 is NOT a typo and Abraham Toro (2B-7 .563 OPS)



Michael Harris II (OF-3 .853 OPS) leads this group along with Steven Kwan (OF-3 .773 OPS). The only other outfielders on the active roster are Alex Verdugo (OF-3 .733 OPS) and Bryan de la Cruz (OF-2 .726 OPS). Down on the farm are Raimel Tapia (OF-3 .672 OPS), Mitch Hanniger (OF-3 .737 OPS), the no-card of the injured Michael Conforto and the un-card of Oscar Colas.


Draft Analysis:

They had two 1st round selections and took Steven Kwan and Dean Kremer.

Another B-Z in Quintana was there in the 2nd.

C-Z Taillon arrived in the 3rd with Trevor Williams being added in the 4th.

The 5th saw Pallante become a Nap and in the 6th it was Clay Holmes.

Alex Lange was chosen in the 7th

Josh Naylor was a nice pick in the 8th as was Oscar Colas in the 9th

Carl Edwards Jr. was taken in the 10th and C Jose Trevino lasted until this 11th round.

Their final pick was Smeltzer in the 12th.



After trading away Jose Ramirez and Wander Franco in questionable moves the Cleveland Manager said “I have a plan”. You can’t question their tactics when they made the play offs in each of the last two years when none of the “experts” gave them a chance to make the post season. This year maybe a little different as it doesn’t look like they have the “horses” to compete.



Billings Mustang

Starting Staff:

Zac Gallen (A-Z 31 GS 184 IP) is the “ace” with B-Z’s, Jordan Montgomery (32 GS 178 IP), George Kirby (25 GS 130 IP) and Tarik Skubal (21 GS 118 IP) all lined up after him. They have a plethora of choices for their # 5 starter in Merril Kelly (33 GS 200 IP), Ranger Suarez (29 GS 155 IP) and Jesus Luzardo (18 GS 100 IP), all Grade B Pitchers with no Z’s. In the minors is Hayden Wesnesky (A-Z 4 GS 33 IP) and un-carded hopefuls Andrew Painter and Grayson Rodriguez. It is a very deep collection of arms.



Emmanuel Clase is the closer as he reached the zenith of APBA pitching grades with his (A&B*-ZZ). A tandem of A*-Z’s help bridge the gap to Clase in Jaime Barria (79 IP 1 GS) and Andres Munoz (65 IP). Joe Jimenez (B*-Z 57 IP) will also help out. In the minors is Seranthony Dominguez (B*-No Z 51 IP) and the injured with no-cards Garrett Crochet and Victor Gonzalez.



Tyler Stephenson (C 8 .854 OPS) but he only has 166 at bats would be the preferred choice to start behind the plate but he can barely stay on the field due to injuries. So Eric Haase (C-6 .748 OPS) will see most of the action wearing the “tools of ignorance”. Gabriel Moreno (C-7 .733 OPS) waits in the wings down on the farm for his chance.



The exciting Fernando Tatis Jr. usually leads off this section but he missed the entire year due to injuries and suspensions and still has 20 games to serve in 2023. As exciting as Tatis is there is no excitement with the rest of the Mustang infield. Rowdy Tellez (1B-4 .767 OPS) will be at the “cold corner”, Jorge Polanco (2B-8 .751 OPS) is at the keystone spot, his DP partner will vary from series to series, sometimes it will be Oneil Cruz (SS-7 .744 OPS) or Isiah Kiner Falefa (SS-9 .642 OPS) or Christian Arroyo (SS-7 2B-8 3B-4 .736 OPS), perhaps even Dylan Moore (SS-8 2B-7 OF-2 .753 OPS) will get some action there if he is not needed elsewhere. Isaac Paredes (3B-4 2B-8 .739 OPS) will see most of his PT at third base. The reserves are Donovan Solano (3B-3 1B-3 .724 OPS) and Alec Bohm (3B-3 1B-2 .713 OPS). Josh Bell (1B-3 .784 OPS) will be the DH.



Anthony Santander (OF-2 .773 OPS) and Seiya Suzuki (OF-2 .769 OPS) will be two of the starters, the other spot will be held down by Eloy Jimenez (OF-1 .858 OPS) but only 292 at bats and Randall Grichuk (OF-2 .724 OPS). The aforementioned Dylan Moore and Christian Arroyo will also be available to fill in. Down on the farm is Josh Lowe (OF-2 .627 OPS) and Jarred Kelenic (OF-2 .534 OPS) along with a trio of un-carded prospects in Druw Jones, Dylan Crews and Brennen Davis.


Draft Analysis:

They shocked the room with their announcement of Rowdy Tellez in the first round. Isaac Paredes in the 2nd drew an equal gasp from the crowd because more than a few teams coveted him; they had hoped to get him later in the draft. They had no 3rd but grabbed Andrew Painter in the 4th, but he is currently down with an injury. Wesnesky was a nice pick in the 5th and he looks like he is penciled into the Chicago Cub rotation. They had no 6th but Dylan Moore, a very useful player both with the bat and the glove as well as speed but only 205 at bats arrived in the 7th.

Joe Jimenez was selected in the 8th

They went un-carded in the 9th and 10th with Dylan Crews and Druw Jones.

The 11th saw a re-union with Seranthony Dominguez.

The 12th was a nice pick in the versatile Christian Arroyo.



Their strengths are a very deep pitching staff both starting and in the bullpen. The lineup however may have trouble producing runs, losing Tatis Jr for the year and Stephenson for most of the year were big blows. Only Tellez and Paredes and occasionally Bell have any power. the outfield is extremely weak other than Eloy Jimenez and he has limited at bats. The West is not super-strong in the middle and other than Memphis it may be a dog-fight to gain a playoff spot.



Union Station Mystic Cowboys

Starting Staff:

Their five man rotation to start the season is Corey Kluber (C-Z 31 GS 164 IP), Eric Lauer (B-No Z 29 GS 159 IP), Luis M.Castillo (B-No Z 25 GS 150 IP), Justin Steele (B-No Z 24 GS 119 IP) and Andrew Heaney (B-Z 14 GS 73 IP) if it is a 6 game series then Garrett Whitlock (B-Z 9 GS 78 IP) will pitch the finale. In the minors is Zach Eflin (C-Z 13 GS 76 IP) and a host of C-No Z pitchers in Lucas Giolito (30 GS 162 IP), Dakota Hudson (26 GS 140 IP), Zach Plesac (24 GS 142 IP) and Dustin May (6 GS 30 IP). These C-No Z’s will all have to pitch in the final section of the schedule.



David Bednar (A*-Z 52 IP) is the closer. He will be supported by three A&C*-No Z's in Brock Burke (82 IP), Matt Moore (74 IP) and Alexis Diaz (64 IP). Andrew Kittredge (B*-ZZ 20 IP) will be used sparingly. Brusdar Graterol (B-Z 50 IP 1 GS) rounds out the pen.



Gary Sanchez (C-7 .659 OPS) who the Cowboys keep hoping that he returns to glory is the starter with Reese McGuire (C-7 .677 OPS) backing him up. In the minors is highly regarded un-carded Diego Cartaya.



Anthony Rizzo (1B-5 .818 OPS) is the star of this lot. The DP tandem is Marcus Semien (2B-9 SS-8 .733 OPS) and Tommy Edman (SS-9 2B-9 .724 OPS). Ke’Bryan Hayes (3B-5 .659 OPS) will man the “hot corner" and Bobby Witt Jr. (3B-4 SS-8 .722 OPS) will be the DH. Triston Casas (1B-3 .766 OPS) is the back up first base man with his 76 at bats and Gunnar Henderson (3B-4 .788 OPS) backs up third base. Nicky Lopez (2B-8 3B-4 SS-9 .554 OPS) is the reserve infielder. The farm system features four un-carded players in Jackson Holliday, Colson Montgomery, Kyle Manzardo and Brooks Lee as well as Nick Madrigal (2B-8 .587 OPS)



Ian Happ (OF-3 .782 OPS), Austin Hays (OF-3 .719 OPS) and Ramon Laureano (OF-3 .663 OPS) should be the starting fly chasing trio. Harrison Bader (OF-3 .650 OPS) is the main reserve. Probably limited to pinch-hitting assignments is Garrett Mitchell (OF-2 .832 OPS) with just 61 at bats. The farm system has Jo Adell (OF-2 .637 OPS) and James Outman (OF-2 1,409 OPS) but only 13 at bats.


Draft Analysis:

They did not pick until the 3rd round where they had two selections, first was un-carded Jackson Holliday and then they added Brock Burke. The 4th gave them Justin Steele.

In the 5th they took Garrett Mitchell and then Alexis Diaz in the 6th

Matt Moore arrived in the 7th. They had no 8th.

The 9th saw them add Brooks Lee and with two picks in the 10th, Corey Kluber and un-carded Colson Montgomery.

They went un-carded again in the 11th with Kyle Manzardo and then finished with James Outman in the 12th.



Despite their strong start the Cowboys knows what is in store for them. In the final section of the schedule they will be forced to pitch mostly C-No Z’s and we know how that works out in the ZSABL.

Anthony Rizzo is the only legitimate threat in the line up and the lack of control on most of the pitching staff will put the club behind the 8-ball giving their anemic offense not much chance of catching up.


Hartford Hurricanes

Starting Staff:

A solid but not spectacular rotation featuring four B-Z’s in Logan Gilbert (32 GS 186 IP), Kevin Gausman (31 GS 175 IP), Drew Rasmussen (28 GS 146 IP) and Braxton Garrett (17 GS 88 IP) and a C-Z in Adam Wainwright (32 GS 192 IP). Cole Irvin (C-Z 30 GS 181 IP) will have to help out with Garretts’s limited innings. Down on the farm are Johan Oviedo (8 GS 56 IP), the injury plagued Tyler Glasnow (2 GS 7 IP), Connor Overton (A-No Z 4 GS 33 IP) and Trevor Rogers (D-No-Z 23 GS 107 IP). Joining them is un-carded Japanese import Kodai Senga, the first time since the 2007 selection of Kazuo Matsui that Hartford has ventured into the Nippon Professional Baseball League.



Reynaldo Lopez (A-Z 65 IP 1 GS) will be the closer, a pair of B-Z’s in Erasmo Ramirez (86 IP 2 GS) and Penn Murfee (69 IP 1 GS) will have to hold off opponents until they get to him. Tyler Rogers (B*-No Z 76 IP) will eat up innings if one of the starters falters early as will the aforementioned Irving when he is not in the rotation. In the minors is Matt Wisler (A-No Z 44 IP 5 GS) and Clarke Schmidt (B-No Z 58 IP 3 GS)



They are pretty well set behind the plate with William Contreras (C-7 .860 OPS) and Travis D’Arnaud (C-7 .791 OPS). Shea Langeliers (C-7 .691 OPS) will bide his time in the minors.



The infield is again solid if not spectacular with Matt Olson (1B-5 .802 OPS), AL batting champ Luis Arraez (2B-7 1B-4 .795 OPS) is at the keystone position teaming with DP partner Dansby Swanson (SS-9 .776 OPS) at shortstop. Brandon Drury (3B-4 .812 OPS) is at the hot corner. Ozzie Albies (2B-9 .703 OPS) provides late inning defense at second base as does Gio Urshela (3B-5 .767 OPS) at third base. Patrick Wisdom (1B-2 3B-3 OF-1 .724 OPS) gives them some protection at multiple positions. In the bushes is Royce Lewis (SS-7.867 OPS 40 at bats), Oswald Peraza (SS-8 .833 OPS 49 at bats), the veteran Evan Longoria (3B-4 .766 OPS) who escaped the pink slip on draft day because management thought he might have something left in the tank as a pinch-hitter/part timer in Arizona and un-carded Anthony Volpe who is making his case to be the starting shortstop in the Bronx.



Ronald Acuna Jr. OF-3 .764 OPS, who had a down year rebounding from his ACL surgery, still has an 11 chance card, Teoscar Hernandez (OF-2 .807 OPS) and a time share between Austin Slater (OF-3 .774 OPS 277 at bats) and Hartford’s # 1 draft pick Corbin Carroll (OF-2 .830 OPS 104 at bats) will make up the starting outfield. Tyler O'Neill (OF-3 .700 OPS) will go in for defense or help out the light at bat situations for the other outfielders. The DH assignment is in a fluid state with the top candidates being Rob Refsnyder (OF-2 .881 OPS 153 at bats), Giancarlo Stanton (OF-1 .759 OPS), Sean Bouchard (OF-1 .954 OPS 74 at bats) but he has 8 14’s. Wisdom could also DH on occasions. Tyrone Taylor (OF-2 .728 OPS) is in the minors.


Draft Analysis:

They traded long time Hurricane Trea Turner to move up to the # 2 slot in the draft to nab Corbin Carroll  in the first round. They didn’t pick again until the 3rd round and at #41 they were pleasantly surprised that Brandon Drury was still on the board. In the 4th they again got who they targeted in Braxton Garrett. The plan was still working to perfection in the 5th when they selected Erasmo Ramirez not for who he is but for what he is the B-Z reliever with the most innings. In the 6th the draft plan was no longer in play so Rob Refsnyder was picked just because he was one of the best offensive player still on the board. In the 7th the player the Hurricane management coveted the most in later rounds, Sean Bouchard with his 8 14’s and 14 chance card joined the fold, he unfortunately tore his bicep tendon off the bone and will probably miss the entire season.

Murfee another B-Z was added in the 8th

Oviedo arrived in the 9th just because he has 8 starts as a B-No Z

They ventured into un-card land in the 10th with Kodai Senga and with their other 10th rounder they took a flier on Royce Lewis.

Clarke Schmidt, a 11th rounder, was another targeted pitcher that they knew they could get late in the draft as a B-No Z reliever but he has made the NY Yankee rotation for 2023.

In the 12th they grabbed Overton just because he was a Grade A with 33 innings.

Their final pick was Acuna’s little brother Luisangel who is in the Texas Ranger system just to keep the family happy but they miscounted and had to drop him because they were at 41 players.



Line up construction will impact how the Hurricanes do this season. They are tied with Norfolk for the 2nd best offense in the league behind Memphis. Starting Pitching is adequate enough to make a run despite just an ordinary bullpen. The defense will be a 1 and a 2 in the infield until late inning defensive reinforcements arrive. Situational hitting with the hatchet cards will also be a factor but the construction of the lineup with the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th hitters all having a double “5” and each one them preceded by a batter with an 11 chance card hopefully will propel the “Canes” to make a charge at the top dog in the division, the Memphis Sound.


San Diego 76er’s

Starting Staff:

Corbin Burnes (B-Z 33 GS 202 IP), Aaron Nola (B-Z 32 GS 205 IP) and Miles Mikolas (B-Z 32 GS 202 IP) line up at the top of he rotation. The # 4 will be Kyle Wright (B-No Z 30 GS 180 IP) and Taijuan Walker (B-No Z 29 GS 157 IP) will probably be the # 5 starter. Domingo German (B-Z 13 GS 68 IP) will spot start. Graham Ashcraft (C-Z 19 GS 105 IP) will be the long man. Down on the farm are Eduardo Rodriguez (C-No Z 17 GS 91 IP), and a trio of Grade D’s with no Z's in Adrian Houser (21 GS 103 IP), Elieser Hernandez (10 GS 62 IP) and Michael Grove (6 GS 29 IP).



Jason Adam (A&C*-Z 63 IP) will have the closing honors with Paul Sewald (A*-Z 64 IP) as the set up man. In support they have Felix Bautista (A*-No Z 66 IP) and the tandem of B*-Z’s Dillon Tate (74 IP) and Connor Brogdon (44 IP).



They traded away Salvador Perez opening the door for Sean Murphy (C-9 .758 OPS) to assume the full time duties behind the plate. Backing him up is Mitch Garver (C-6 .702 OPS). In the minors is Bo Naylor (C-6 .000 OPS) with just 8 at bats. His future looks good as he had a 20 HR, 20 SB season in the minors last year across two levels.



Jose Abreu (1B 3 .824 OPS) is at first and joining him on the right side of the infield is Kolten Wong (2B 8 .769 OPS). Covering the left side is Nolan Arenado (3B 5 .891 OPS) at the hot corner and Ha-Seong Kim (SS 9 3B-4 .708 OPS) at short.  Trea Turner (SS-8 .809 OPS) will be the DH. Tim Anderson (SS-8 .734) will be limited to pinch hitting duties. Down on the farm is Miguel Rojas (SS-9 1B-3 .606 OPS) and David Hensley (2B-6 1.027 OPS) but just 29 at bats. He will be line for a lot of playing time for the Astros with Jose Altuve out with a broken thumb. Also biding time in the bushes is Brian W.Anderson (3B-4 OF-1 .657 OPS) and the versatile Joey Wendle (3B-4 SS-8 2B-8 .657 OPS).



Kyle Tucker(OF-3 .808 OPS) is the star of this Group, flanked on one side most days by Christopher Morel (OF-2 2B-7 3B-3 SS-7 .751 OPS), he also provides a lot of infield insurance. Cedric Mullins (OF-3 .721 OPS) will be the other starter. Jake Fraley (OF-2 .812 OPS) with 216 at bats will clamor for some playing time. Matt Vierling (OF-3 .648 OPS) and Chris Taylor (OF-2 2B-7.677 OPS) are in reserve. Nick Maton (OF-2 2B-7 .855 OPS), with his 72 at bats he should be their main pinch-hitter. In the minors are David Peralta (OF-3 .731 OPS), Tommy Pham (OF-2 .686 OPS), Hunter Dozier (OF-2 1B-4 3B-3 .679 OPS) and Jarren Duran (OF-2 .646 OPS).


Draft Analysis:

They traded their #1 in order to acquire Trea Turner but they ended up with three picks in the second and Christopher Morel, Ha-Seong Kim and Jason Adam were all solid choices.

In the 3rd with two picks, the Kyle Wright selection gave them 180 IP of Grade B-No Z and Jake Fraley gave them some “oomph” in the outfield.

Paul Sewald arrived in the 4th and Felix Bautista in the 5th.

They had no 6th but in the 7th they plucked Graham Ashcraft. Dillon Tate was taken in the 8th

Bo Naylor was a nice choice in the 9th as was Hensley in the 10th with the Altuve situation in Houston.

Chris Taylor was re-united with his former mates in the 11th.

They took a flier on Grove in the 12th.

Nick Maton in the 13th was a no-risk, high reward selection with his good card and the possibility of more PT since he was traded to the Tigers.

Their final pick was Mitch Garver in the 14th because they needed a back up catcher.



The back end of the rotation has two (B-No Z’s) which could pose a problem. They opted for defense with Kim at shortstop over Trea Turner who will be the DH. The outfield lacks a lot of pop other than Tucker unless Fraley is in the lineup. Play-off spots are up for grabs in the West; they may fall a little short.


Division Wrap-Up


1st Place: Memphis: A superb pitching staff with nearly all of them with control as well as the best lineup in the division makes them the favorite to capture the pennant. A little light in the power department in the outfield other than Garcia but Alonso and Riley will compensate for it.


2nd Place: Hartford:  They are rolling the dice that their line up construction will guide them to the post-season. Only one "A" in the pen may come back to bite them. At bats is an issue in the outfield. If their plans work out then 2nd place is in the cards and they can just hope that Memphis goes into one of their “funks” so they can nudge past them. If it fails then they will battle Norfolk, San Diego and Billings for post-season berths. 


3rd Place: Norfolk: Weaknesses are outfield defense unless Varsho is inserted there frequently, two starters with out a “Z”, and only one A+-Z in the pen. The at bats for Buxton and Pasquantino have to be monitored. Offensively they are tied with Hartford for 2nd best in the West, not too far off from Memphis. A pennant would be a “reach" but a post-season spot is not.


4th Place: San Diego: The offense just looks a little short other than Arenado and Tucker, Fraley's limited at bats hurt, two starters without a “Z" and Abreu’s 1B-3 are all shortcomings that may keep them from the playoffs.


5th Place: Billings: A dominant pitching staff will keep them close. The lineup leaves a lot to be desired, especially the outfield. If none of the mid-group of the division gets hot and runs away with a playoff spot then the Mustang may have a shot.


6th Place: Cleveland:  You can't write off the Naps like most have the last two years, including this publication, only to see them sail into the post season. This year’s edition looks like it will have a rockier road to “glory" but the Hize has a plan. Their "mix and match" method of coming up with an infield configuration may work out. They are offensively challenged and have to pitch a pair of C-Z’s in the rotation. Their post-season chances look bleak but we have been wrong before.


7th Place: Union Station: Despite their early success, Manager Smith knows the eventual outcome for the Cowboys. By the time they roll into the third section of the schedule they will pitch all C-No Z's.

Armed with two number one picks next year, which they have vowed not to trade, they claim they are ready to rebuild into a contender.




The final prediction:




4-San Diego



7-Union Station




This journalistic endeavor is just an opinion. Please, if you disagree with it, post your own predictions. I do take a lot of time analyzing the rosters etc. If you must comment, make it to the entire league, sort of like a Letter to the Editor. In the past I have been wrong and sometimes right on the money just like the Weathermen.